In a race which he said was as fast and it was tactical, ace South African track cyclist Steven van Heerden confirmed his status as the best points rider in Africa when he won the title at the SA National Track Championships in Cape Town today.
Van Heerden played his cards right to add the national title to the African Continental crown he won in Durban two weeks ago.
“Looking at the points race, it’s a very funny, different race,” he said. “It’s not a ‘race to the finish line and the first guy wins’ kind of race.
“There are a lot of tactics involved. You have to play against the other riders and try to use their own cards against them.”
The BCX rider said he went into the race feeling at a disadvantage against some of the faster sprinters, but said he banked on his tactical approach working in his favour.
“Going into the race I knew it was going to be a hard race for me. I knew there were a few fast guys on the track and that the shorter 250m laps would suit them.
“I’m not too bad in the sprint, but I know I’m not the fastest, so I had to get points on the board quite early on to take the pressure off me.
“In cycling you have all these plans, but it never plays out 100 per cent to the strategy you have in your head.
“Going into the race I didn’t want to contend for the first few sprints because I knew the other guys were still fresh and they normally tend to hurt me. However, a bit of luck meant I was in the right place at the right time and I was able to take the first sprint.
“That gave me a bit of encouragement and I thought ‘Okay, now I must just keep going at it’.”
The 23-year-old said the points race was one in which riders needed to be “awake” as it required quick thinking to keep up with the pace of the race.
“Although I didn’t end up riding exactly according to plan, the race did play out as I had hoped – I managed to win after all,” he joked.
“I’m very happy I managed to take the win because I won the continental champs a few weeks ago and I was worried it wouldn’t look too great if I won there but failed here.
“I didn’t have a great start to these champs. I had a bit of bad luck and made some silly mistakes, but this win has definitely made up for that.”